Berlin Leather & Shoe

Katherine Ryder Published:

Nestled inside Shrock's Amish and Farm Village are thirteen hot spots for the center of Amish Country and tourist destinations, one of which is Berlin Leather & Shoe. Owned by the Shrock family, Berlin Leather & Shoe is mostly managed by Firman Hershberger. Hershberger's brother, David, first started the Berlin Antique Mall (also located in Shrock's Amish and Farm Village) roughly nine years ago. A year later he opened Berlin Craft Mall, and a year after that, Berlin Leather & Shoe when Shrock and Hershberger were partners. Merchandise at Berlin Leather varies from belts and hats to home dcor and log furniture. Hershberger strives to get as much locally-made merchandise in the shop as he can; however, that's not always possible. "Most of our belts, wallets and some of our straw hats are made locally," Hershberger said. "We can also custom order belts how the customer wants them." The theme for Berlin Leather is definably western home dcor. With cow hide rugs, boots, straw hats, framed watercolors of the countryside and farm houses, log furniture, dishes, linens, horse book ends, gun holsters, antler ceiling lights, apparel, leather belts and belt buckles the entire store is loaded with a western theme. "We're always looking for new items," Hershberger said. "I'd like to add even more western dcor and new ideas for our inventory." The mainstay of Berlin Leather has been their belts. "I'm very happy with our belts," Hershberger said. "It's something that's been a stable item." Hershberger believes the store's handcrafted leather belts are a contributing factor to the business' success over the years. It's something that Hershberger has been proud to be a part of as well as the individuals he works with. "I really enjoy working with the Shrock family and our other employees," Hershberger said. As part of Berlin Leather & Shoe there is also a young man by the name of Elmer Yoder who works in the store. Some of our readers may remember a young man named Elmer Yoder. Yoder was featured in the June 2010 issue of Amish Heartland as an "Amish teen' who enjoys painting and auctioneering. For the past two years, Yoder has continued to develop his craft and looks forward to next year when he can become an auctioneer at age 18. Nearly two years ago, Elmer Yoder was defined as busy. At the time he worked 35 hours a week at Berlin Leather & Shoe; he kept up with his chores at home; he called private auctions; he framed and matted his commissioned work; and he painted watercolor landscapes. Now Yoder works at Berlin Leather & Shoe; he keeps up with his chores at home; he calls private auctions; he frames and mats his commissioned work; he paints watercolor landscapes; he takes requests for his artwork; and he waits anxiously to be a certified auctioneer. It sounds like a lot of work, especially for someone at 17, but Yoder has been painting since he was 11. While many of his fellow Amish classmates will be working in carpentry, farming, construction and other related fields, Yoder won't. At about 21 months old, a horse accident severely damaged Yoder's spinal cord. His right arm is impaired, and his right leg isn't as strong. According to the previous article, Yoder doesn't think it slows him down too much. His dreams of becoming an auctioneer come from simply enjoying the atmosphere of the event. As Yoder was beginning to master the auctioneering craft, he would go to auctions on his days off work and carry a reporter's audio recorder so he could listen to them at home. Now, Yoder has nearly mastered the ability. "I have to concentrate so I don't mess up," Yoder said. Yoder has been in business with selling his artwork since he was 11 years old. In the beginning, he sold his sketches for a dollar a piece at the annual Charm Days festival just a few miles from his house. Yoder gained his confidence through an acquaintance, David Bailey of West Lebanon. It was Bailey who encouraged Yoder to branch out. In a previous interview Bailey commented, "I thought he might have some artistic ability and I though, 'This kid is pretty good.'" Yoder has also taken art lessons with Mark Polamcheck, a local artist whom Bailey also studied under, as well as Judy Leeson. Leeson, of Newcomerstown, got to know Yoder's family through Bailey. When Leeson's husband died, she was looking for ways to spend time outside the house to cope with the loss. After she'd seen Yoder's work, she was inspired to give him lessons. When Yoder turns 18 he plans on becoming a professional auctioneer and working at an auction barn. To find Yoder or inquire about his artwork, locals and tourists can visit Berlin Leather & Shoe in Berlin. Berlin Leather & Shoe and Berlin Pets & Supplies are located in the Berlin Leather store within the Shrock's Amish and Farm Village complex at 4359 SR 39 in Berlin. Business hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information call 330-893-7038, Ext. 3 or visit www.amishfarmvillage.com to learn about all of the businesses incorporated with Shrock's Amish and Farm Village.

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